Thursday, January 04, 2007

airport follies

just spent two and one half hours waiting at the airport in the cold late night/early morning hours (at least i didn't stick my tongue to a metal pole this time~apparently that's the only wisdom i've managed to accumulate in the last 35 years) and it seems i'm much more like my mother than i generally like to admit...
first, some background info, my mother brilliant and wonderful as she is, is more than a bit absent minded (once when i was driving along with her and she was being distracted by every little thing and constantly forgetting her train of thought i observed that she could come down with Alzheimer's and i would never know the difference~in between peals of hysterical laughter she exclaimed "that's not funny!" "then why are you laughing," i asked. "Because it's so true!")
Anyway, the last time my mom went to visit my sister she forgot to take her cellphone charger and picked up a generic one at Wallmart. After a few days her cellphone went dead and she decided she had a bad cellphone; i suggested maybe the generic charger wasn't compatible with the phone like the brand name phones always tell you to always use ONLY their chargers (which i realize is only a marketing scheme but Maybe there is something to it.) Well anyway she gets back home and lo and behold her phone works with the regular charger.
This trip she decides the problem is she was probably plugging the charger into a wrong outlet (?) But i ask her if she was sure she took the RIGHT charger and she assured me she had. After a few days she calls me on my sister's phone to tell me that her cell phone has mysteriously died (even though she plugged it into the right outlet this time).
"Are you sure you brought the RIGHT cellphone charger???" i ask her one more time.
"Yes, I brought the one i bought here last time." she assures me.
"The ONE that DIDN'T work the last time you tried it. I asked you about that before, Remember...?"
"Oh, well I thought you just meant the one that went with the phone," (i suppose, as opposed to one that went with some other appliance) "well, I was lazy and didn't want to crawl under the desk to unplug it."
"I see." i am shaking my head at this point which she can hear through the phone.
"I know, I know" she says."
On New Year's Day (Monday) she was asking if i had been picking up her mail and i told her i hadn't been over to her house since Friday but that there should only be one day's worth of mail there since they hadn't delivered that day and they wouldn't be delivering Tuesday because of Ford (i must insert here that my mother is a news junkie, usually watching the news about three times a day, and when she is at home she seems to spend at least twelve hours on the Internet). She then preceded to tell me that my brother-in-law's, who is a federal employee, boss had wanted him to take the day after Christmas off and she was speculating that the day after New Year's was the day the post office needed to take off.
"No Mom, it's because of Ford."
"Ford. What did Ford do?"
"He died, Mom. I can't believe you didn't know that, haven't you been watching the news?"
"Oh they don't let the news in here. All they watch on t.v. is sports and kids' shows."
"What about the Internet or the radio?"
"The radio's in the other room and the Internet's difficult to get to."
"It sounds like you're being held prisoner, you need to make some demands!" (my mother is not a soft-spoken woman)
"I know, you know what a news-junkie i am..."
"That's what i'm saying..."
"And i'm getting tired of sleeping on the couch..."
Me, (what is going on at my sister's house) "hmmm..."
When i call my sister's house the next day and no one answers i call her cell phone.
"No one answered your phone."
"That's because (my-brother-in-law) is downloading songs from the Internet (on my mom's laptop mind you)"
"Oh, so you do get the Internet. Mom was saying it was hard to get the Internet, and the radio, and that you don't let the news in."
"She lies." (curious answer don't you think?)
then, when she puts my mom on the phone my mom claims she had been confused, curiouser and curiouser...
Anyway, at this point, i need flight information and what i get is that her flight arrives at 11:10 p.m. and that when she got to the Phoenix airport maybe she would try to find a kiosk where they would charge her phone and she could call me. Period. No flight number. No airline name (though i do know which airline i dropped her off at~i'm hoping it's the same). Now, of course, i could have asked, the fact that i didn't is perhaps equal parts that i'm her daughter and that i'm afraid i'll get her side-tracked, have her misplace her ticket and leave her stranded somewhere (it could happen).
So, after working at the library, and working up a tremendous migraine, i go home for a little while, drive to the airport, get there precisely at 11:11, circle the pick-up area a couple of times, then decide to ignore the threatening "NO PARKING, NO WAITING, VIOLATORS WILL BE TOWED" signs (just like everyone else) and wait at the curb. After about twenty minutes, to conserve my dwindling gas, i turn off the engine, but leave the radio going. After an hour, i call my sister, the second try wakes her up, and i ask her if she knows anything about mom.
"Who?" (she, after all is blessed with mom's genetics as well as her environmental upbringing.)
"Mom, i've been waiting an hour for her at the airport and there is no sign of her, and of course there is no answer on her cellphone. Do you know anything about her flight?"
"No, i think it went through Tuscon."
"She likes to meet at baggage"
"I never meet her there"
this is going swimmingly.
Maybe i'll go around again. Car doesn't start. Oh yeah, my battery isn't that strong, and when you sit there with the radio going, and the lights on in a no parking no waiting zone... I'm kind of fucked
I'm thinking i should go in and check the baggage claim area but i don't want to leave my car behind, because i know as soon as i do the tow truck will come along and take it away (even though i haven't seen the tow truck for about forty minutes) life is just that way. I gather up my keys and wallet and cellphone and get out of the car and walk around the car. It's damn cold. I get back in the car. I gather up my keys and wallet and cellphone and get out of the car and walk around the car. It's damn cold. I get back in the car. I gather up my keys and wallet and get out of the car and walk into the airport, there is NO ONE in there. Baggage claim is deserted. I look around for some other baggage claim but don't see where one could be. I walk back out to the car. It's still damn cold. I left the cellphone in the car. Of course mom called during the whole seven minutes i was gone. Voice mail says she will wait for a while longer then she'll call a cab (and leave me stranded at the cold airport with a dead car in a NO PARKING, NO WAITING ZONE!!!)
It is now almost 1:00a.m. I get on the cellphone and start calling any information, any number that might get me through to paging (damn any charges, i'm not being left in this car that's not going anywhere). I get through to her.
She "Where are you?"
Me "I'm outside."
"I'll be right there," click.
ARGH (well obviously i'm not where you thought i'd be or we'd have connected by now...)
I accost the cop-on-a-bike where the airline is.
"Down at the other end."
"Can i leave my dead car here while i go find my mom?"
"No, but we can call a tow truck to charge it for you."
"Okay, let's do that then."
and eventually all's well that ends well.
(My depression era mother did spend 50 whole cents on a payphone call to me from Phoenix to tell me her flight was delayed but when the operator got a message~which i don't think was even mine as i didn't even have any missed calls~she wouldn't allow her to leave a message~Mom didn't think of leaving a message with my sister~probably just as well since Sis never did bother to find out what happened to her...)

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